Wini Jackson is the kind of person who insists on a hug, not a handshake, and no one seems able to resist her.
Jackson, in her 70s, is a full-time volunteer who works tirelessly to keep thousands of kids on the path to a brighter future. That has been her focus for more than 30 years.
“If I could start a revolution for children,” said Jackson, who’s retired from the Los Angeles County Probation Department. “I would start that revolution.”
She harnesses such passion and commitment to organize freelance field trips and events, calling in favors and refusing to take no for an answer.
“When Wini says, ‘I’m going to do it,’ it’s a challenge,” said Maria Schmidt, a former official of the Variety Club children’s charity. “She gets it done.”
Jackson has made it possible for kids to meet civil rights heroes including Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. She has organized special screenings of movies like “The Lord of the Rings,” though she required the kids to read the books first.
“We’ve been to the Disney Concert Hall, plays at the Ahmanson Theater,” she said. “I take them to concerts.”
She has even led a few field trips abroad, working with royalty like Britain’s Prince Charles to make it happen. She says that if she doesn’t do it, no one else will.
“I was born to do this,” she said. “This is what I was created to do. My passion and my love for children is just there. My mother put it in me.”
Jackson’s childhood had plenty of challenges, she said.
“I was born in Dallas and I spent my early childhood there,” she said. “Dallas was a very segregated place.”
Her mother worked as a maid six days a week but she taught Jackson the value of education and the duty to help others.
“My mother had this drive for education, for information, because it was the thing that was denied to us,” she said.
Jackson recently took children from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Youth Activity League to a free private screening of “Walking With Dinosaurs” and then they visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
“I wish I had ten more Winis to help me run my program,” Sgt. Veronica De La Rosa said.
Said Jackson: “I get so much joy. It’s just really mind-boggling. … When you find your purpose, it’s not a job.”